Headlines: Astrodome Bonds Voted Down; Bayport Cruise Terminal’s First Ship Comes In

Photo of Greenway Plaza: Russell Hancock via Swamplot Flickr Pool

42 Comment

  • The Astrodome article is from the Washington Post, and it’s currently their most popular article in sports. So I guess the Astrodome is important after all to people outside Houston? Hmmmmm…

  • Instead of killing the dome, can’t we push the county to now do the UH grad student’s “wireframe” idea? They raised $800k in a matter of hours selling some seats, and will spend $30mill already to demo it. If we are going to have to dismantle the thing anyways and spend $30 mill, why not do the wireframe/plaza idea?

  • In before CREOLE!

  • I don’t think it’s important to people outside of Houston, perhaps a curiosity at best. Having said that, they have no financial stake in the situation and are immaterial to the choice Houston made.

  • May we have a Comment of the Day that isn’t from a Swamplot reader? This has to be it: “We can’t allow the once-proud Astrodome to sit like a rusting ship in the middle of a parking lot. This was the best effort (to revamp the stadium), and voters have turned it down,” said Harris County Judge Ed Emmett
    I mean seriously Judge Emmett? The County has mishandled the Dome from the beginning, and NOW you have a sense of urgency? And THIS was the County’s best effort?

  • I’m glad that voters nixed the frivolous (dome boondoggle, Katy stadium) and approved the necessary (water is vital). And if people on the east coast are so worried about the dome, let THEM pay for the damned thing.

  • To many of us it isn’t so much about the Astrodome as it is about more welfare for the convention and sports industries. I would happily take a small tax increase to make the Astrodome a huge park that was meant for use by the people who paid for it. A convention center is to be used by people from out of town, and as has been discussed at length, this was not an economically reasonable proposal.

  • I applaud Ed Emmett and the County Commissioners with their perfectly reasonable view of a mandate for quick action: an almost completely closed-door process that produced exactly the option the politicians’ supporters wanted, that also included both a guaranteed tax hike and bad operating cash flows — was rejected by voters, so that means we need to tear down the Dome and quick.

    Before people go out to Google and look-up something like the error of asserting the contrapositive or start slinging around phrases like, “Houstonians don’t care about historical preservation”, let’s all just remember that we do have at least one more vote on this issue coming up — in November of 2014.

  • I agree with Brian about the skeletal stadium proposal. But interests want to turn that spot into something profitable. Too bad it sounds like we’ve been railroaded into a pig-in-a-poke pet project only to be told “It’s too late, we tried.” as if we’re all out of creative options. The proposition wasn’t a “vote for it or it’s demoed” one. I say let’s get back to the drawing board.

  • Yes, sorry I had a business meeting, anyway….Yes, I completely agree that’s this seems to be an outcome most desired by the Judge. Float a plan that is shakey at best then half heartily support it (while behind the scenes allowing misinformation to cloud the process). This is an epic fail by Emmett, we all know he engineered this mess. I do agree, as much as I love the Astrodome, that this was a referendum on its future. At this point it’s obvious that a pluralism of voters wanted it torn down. The voters knew what this referendum really meant and they chose to vote against it. Truly Houston is a bottom line town and preservation is an afterthought. It’s a lost cause, just tear it down, the quicker the better so the Texans and Rodeo can get their parking spots, you know how poor they both are and how in needs of extra revenue.

  • I love the Dome, I just do not love it enough to pay $200+ million dollars on a very questionable plan to save it.

    I am with Brian, I hope the wire frame idea can be pushed through. That would be a great way to celebrate the dome while not costing the people of Harris county a fortune.

  • Christ what a bunch of scumbags Emmett and the HCSCC are. Slattery’s plan would be great, but since HCSC’s Plan A to get paid failed, now they default to their Plan B and get the parking spots they wanted in the first place. Except now they will say “it’s the public’s decision”. Can we sack these guys?

  • The point shouldn’t be, if people around the country like the dome, they should pay for it. The point should be, if the dome can generate this much interest around the country now, after it has set dark and mouldering for ten years, how much more interest could it generate after it is restored, refurbished, and marketed?

    This is our landmark. Some cities never get a landmark, some cities are lucky to get one. This would have eventually been the answer to visitors’ question, “So what is there to do in Houston?”

  • Finally – Houston voted the correct way. We already have enough convention center space and need more parking for Reliant – this is a no-brainer.

    On another note, as a homeowner, I just can’t stand the fact that non-homeowners are allowed to vote on property tax increases for bonds for people’s pet projects in the city. Someone renting property has no skin in the game and shouldn’t be allowed to vote on increase/decrease tax propositions.

  • I was a strong supporter of the new dome coalition,but this lost badly with no organised opposition. It’s time to tear it down and do so quickly. Right now it’s just a festering wound. Astrodone.

  • Non-Astrodome comment:
    Good to see the Katy football stadium proposal get knocked down too. It’s ridiculous that any school would propose to spend $70m on a football stadium, and only $4.5 on a Math and Science center. Priorities?
    I’m not saying extracurricular isn’t important, because it is. However, it’s not 15x more important than math and science!

  • I think Judge Emmett has done a great job. Parking spaces = lots of cash to offset the cost of demolition, which is what they need to do because a whole bunch of very smart people have tried for many years to come up with an economically viable alternative and couldn’t. Using public money to redevelop it had boondoggle written all over it.

  • “This is our landmark. Some cities never get a landmark, some cities are lucky to get one. This would have eventually been the answer to visitors’ question, ‘So what is there to do in Houston?'”

    Haha, yeah right. I’m so sure out of town guests would be dying to go to a 350k square foot empty hall. Sounds thrilling.

  • OK, the dome vote’s done. But I don’t think we (citizens of Harris county) should have to pay for the demolition. Instead, the county should put a large chainlink fence around it (with razor wire on top). If Bob McNair and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo don’t like it, let them pay for the demolition.

  • The private sector has looked at this umpteen different ways and tried to make a redesign of the dome work. If it were possible it would have already happened. It’s a functionally obsolete money pit that needs to be torn down. RIP The Astrodome. You were great, but your time has passed.

  • Gary Dell: as a homeowner, I just can’t stand the fact that non-homeowners are allowed to vote on property tax increases for bonds for people’s pet projects in the city. Someone renting property has no skin in the game and shouldn’t be allowed to vote on increase/decrease tax propositions.”
    To be fair, renters do pay via their rent which is a reflection of costs incurred by the owner. If all apartment owners faced a increase/decrease in property tax due, you’d see a change up/down in rental rates.
    I agree with you in spirit, but renters do pay these types of taxes. In fact, when a tax hits all commercial guys, passing along the increase is easy.

  • To Cody (comment #22):

    Passing down costs to renters from property owners isn’t the same thing. You may raise/lower rent for a variety of reasons. Even if property taxes are increased and the owner funnels those increases to the renters, it would be disproportionate to an individual homeowner’s increase. There’s too many variable with owner/renter to just say “passing along the increase is easy.” It’s not the same thing.

    Sidebar: when is Swamplot going to move to Disqus comments? This commenting system is Web 1.0

  • I just emailed Ed Emmett asking him to consider the wireframe idea again. If they are going to pay to tear it down and raise the floor for parking, why not just leave the steel structure behind in the process? They could let people park in it, or rent it out and rope it off if someone wants to host an event under the wireframe. Eventually they could even light it up at night with cool displays. Both sides get their way. More parking, possibly another asset for Reliant Park no one else around the world has, and the memory of the dome is saved.

  • “Haha, yeah right. I’m so sure out of town guests would be dying to go to a 350k square foot empty hall. Sounds thrilling.”

    An empty hall that could eventually hold something really amazing, like an air and space museum. You have to use vision and imagination. That’s how any landmark in the world has been preserved. Unfortunately, Houston is a place where words like “vision” and “imagination” are met with suspicion and ridicule, which is why any landmark here is ultimately doomed to destruction.

  • I’ve got it! Let’s move the Astrodome! Just take it apart, and rebuild it on some cheap land in Pearland. The main problem with doing anything with the Astrodome is that it would effectively get shut down during February for the rodeo and on a dozen Sundays in the fall for football. But, if you take it out of the Reliant complex, you could then turn it into an attraction.

  • @Cody, you’re technically correct but there’s a big psychological disconnect between renters and property taxes. Renters think taxes are big greedy land owner’s problem not theirs. Hence they vote as though they do not pay them.

    @Gary Dell, we don’t have a different comment system because we’re not well behaved enough and not allowed nice things.

  • @brian, I don’t think the slattery, shell, skeleton idea ever really was considered by the county nor has it had a feasibility study done. It was merely one architectural student’s thesis. To me it’s a worse idea than the convention center. A bunch of steel exposed in a humid climate, yeah cause nothing will go wrong there. What revenue generating events would be held under there? You think the some is ugly now? Wait until it looks like a giant erector set.

  • +100 for the wireframe concept. I voted against the proposition – not because I don’t care about the dome, but because I don’t want it to be a convention center. Keep the iconic part (the actual DOME) and demo the rest.
    I also like the current comment system. Or rather, I don’t like (or trust) Disqus or any of its ilk.

  • My unscientific opinion of the way the Dome bonds vote went down:
    Maybe 20% of voters didn’t think the plan for more convention and exhibit space was needed, and would end up a failure that would cost more money further down the road.
    Another 20% won’t vote for any measure that will raise their taxes. The last 12% probably moved here sometime in the last decade, and have never set foot in the Astrodome, and have no emotional connection to it. So these forces converged and tipped the vote against the bond package. It didn’t help that there was almost no marketing campaign by the save the dome side.

  • Hatetown, I love you.

  • @30 I only saw marketing for the save the dome side. The anti-dome vote was entirely unmarketed.

  • My dad is coming into town tomorrow. Neither of us has ever been to the dome. I’ll ask him if he wants to go and see it before it’s torn down.
    When he stops laughing, I’ll let you guys know what his answer was.

  • Strip the Dome down to a steel skeleton. Let all the graffiti artists in town go at it with Krylon Rustproof paint and make them BYOB of paint. Then attach neon multi-colored LED lights and do cool light shows. Hipster paradise. Critical Mass could launch their bike rides from there. Free Press could pay to use the structure for their Summer Fest and raise their ticket prices by $100 a day to cover the cost. Hipsters rejoice. A millenial can dream.

  • #14/23, 22, 27

    I know, right?! …like those old guys with ED who weigh-in on abortion issues. They have no skin in the game.

    I just can’t stand the fact that I know what I want, and there are others I know don’t know what I want who appear to be treated equally.

  • I think Swamplot still uses Lotus, so just be glad it loads everyday, Gary.

  • commonsense: “… there’s a big psychological disconnect between renters and property taxes. Renters think taxes are big greedy land owner’s problem not theirs. Hence they vote as though they do not pay them.”
    You’re spot on. I totally agree that they vote as if they don’t pay them. I did a break down of the increases in property taxes, new management district taxes, new drainage fees, new apartment registration fees (and all the costs that go along with it), and a dozen other increases in costs of running a multifamily property that I won’t bore everyone with. When that was all done, it was easy to say “this is how much more you’re paying a month to cover the costs”
    It’s confusing why someone who was renting wouldn’t think something like “a tax on multifamily property owners of $100 per year per unit” wouldn’t be paid by the tenant? If it’s a tax that effects all owners equally, there is no hiding from it as a renter.

  • Comment #14 reminds me that there was a time when only landowners could vote. I would say we’ve made a bit of progress since then.

  • Gary Dell, commonsense and CREOLE:

    All three of you need to start your very own real estate blogs.

    Then you could bitch and moan all you want.

    A less magnanimous moderator might ask you to move elsewhere.

  • Uh-oh, someone pinned on his little junior mod badge…

  • Mr. Dell, by all means, feel free to sell your home and rent: no real estate taxes and you can still vote to raise/lower other people’s taxes, right? A win-win! you save money and we don’t have to hear anymore classist bitching.

    Thanks for the input, Cody. It actually sounds like a good thing for homeowners that renters don’t vote as if they’re paying real estate taxes directly. Homeowners as a whole are more likely voters than renters and dissatisfied homeowners are even more likely to vote than dissatisfied renters

  • @#40 OhBrother:

    If you’d read all those comments you might have figured it out.

    I was referring to their cracks about the comment system used here on Swamplot. Nothing else.

    If they are so much smarter and know so much more about these things, they need to start their own blog. Criticizing the system (that works) just makes them look petty.

    Plenty of people that have been here much longer than you and them have adjusted quite well.